Beginners guide to archery at the 2023 Pan Am Games in Santiago

Crispin Duenas celebrates winning the 2019 Pan Am Games.

The Chilean capital of Santiago hosts the last multisport event of a packed season in 2023 as the best archers in the Americas compete for Pan Am Games titles and Olympic quotas at the start of November.

Only four years removed from the introduction of compound to the event, what’s changed for the discipline’s first champions? Sara Lopez is still one of the world’s best and Roberto Hernandez remains a contender to repeat at round two. This time, though, there’s more on offer, with compound team medals joining the programme to bring archery’s total number of podiums to 10.

Alejandra Valencia is having a brilliant season, with two major silver medals at the worlds and Hyundai Archery World Cup Final.

Will the two-time Pan Am Games Champion add another significant result in 2023?

Plenty to offer from the home nation, too, particularly via Ricardo Soto and Paralympic medallist Mariana Zuñiga, who will compete in this event and the subsequent Para Pan Am Games.

It’ll be chilly in Chile. But the competition is just heating up…

Key information

What’s happening? The archery competitions at the 19th edition of the Pan American Games on 1-5 November 2023 at the Peñalolén archery centre in Santiago, Chile.

What’s at stake? A complete programme of 10 Pan American Games Games Champion titles – five for recurve and five for compound – for the first time, and six quota places for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

Who’s competing? A total of 98 archers – 49 men and 49 women – from 17 countries, with 66 competing in the recurve and 32 in the compound events.

What’s the story? The second opportunity for archers in the Americas to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympics after this summer’s world championships, there are six quota spots available. Compound was introduced to this continental multisport event last time around at Lima 2019, with two team competitions (doubles rather than triplets) added for Santiago.

Defending champions

The winners at the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima:

Event schedule

  • Wednesday 1 November: Qualification
  • Thursday 2 November: Eliminations
  • Friday 3 November: Eliminations
  • Saturday 4 November: Team and compound finals
  • Sunday 5 November: Recurve finals (Olympic quotas)

The line-up

These are the top-ranked individual archers competing in Santiago (as of 28 October):

These are the nations that will contest the team medals:

  • Recurve men’s team (8): Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Mexico, the USA and Independent Athletes*.
  • Recurve women’s team (8): Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Mexico, the USA and Venezuela.
  • Recurve mixed team (15): Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico, Peru, Puerto Rico, the USA, the US Virgin Islands, Venezuela and Independent Athletes*.
  • Compound men’s team (6): Canada, Colombia, El Salvador, Mexico, the USA and Independent Athletes*.
  • Compound women’s team (5): Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, Mexico and the USA.
  • Compound mixed team (8): Brazil, Colombia, Chile, El Salvador, Mexico, Puerto Rico, the USA and Independent Athletes*.

The Guatemalan Olympic Committee is currently suspended and archers from the country are competing as Independent Athletes in Santiago.


1) Pairs, not teams. To add compound team events to the programme, while keeping the overall number of competitors down, two-archer rather than three-archer teams have been introduced for Santiago. Matches will follow the same format as for mixed teams and, for the first time in Pan Am Games history, 10 gold medals will be awarded – five in recurve and five in compound competitions.

2) Historic triple. Four archers in history have won multiple individual Pan American Games Champion titles: Darrell Pace (1983, 1991), Denise Parker (1987, 1991), Jennifer Nichols (2003, 2007) and Alejandra Valencia (2011, 2019). Only one of those – Valencia – has an opportunity to win a third in Santiago.

3) Youth Champions. There is one ‘extra‘ entrant in both the recurve men’s and recurve women’s events in Pan American Youth Games Champions Valentina Vazquez and Trenton Cowles. As only three archers can advance to the eliminations, should they qualify high, they will knock out one of their teammates early.

4) Olympic spots. The winner of the recurve mixed team event in Santiago will win one men’s and one women’s quota for Paris 2024, as will the top two eligible athletes in the individual competitions. Some countries already have spaces – and we’ve written a clearer breakdown of how that affects the process here.

Competition format

Archers at the Pan American Games use either a recurve or compound bow and compete in the discipline of target archery.

The recurve competitions take place over 70 metres and matches are decided using the set system. The compound competitions take place over 50 metres and matches are decided using cumulative scoring.

A 72-arrow qualifying round is used to rank and seed athletes (and teams) for the matchplay phase. Archers then progress through head-to-head brackets, with the loser of each match eliminated and the winner advancing until a champion is crowned. 

During recurve set system matches, the goal is to accrue a target number of set points, which is six in the individual events and five in the mixed team and team events. Individual archers shoot sets of three arrows, mixed teams (pairs) sets of four arrows (two each), and teams (three athletes) sets of six arrows (two each). The archer or team with the highest arrow score in a set is awarded two set points, or one each for a draw.

During compound cumulative scoring matches, the goal is to accrue the highest total arrow score over a set number of arrows. Individual archers shoot matches of 15 arrows, split into five ends of three; while mixed and two-archer teams shoot matches of 16 arrows, split into four ends of four (two each).


Archers competing at the Pan American Games use a recurve or compound bow.

The recurve bow is the modern evolution of traditional bows that have existed for 1000s of years. The limbs positioned at the top and bottom of the bow curve back away from the archer at each tip. This is what gives the ‘re-curve’ its name. Recurve has been the bowstyle used at the Olympic Games since archery’s reintroduction to the programme in 1972. It has featured at the Pan Am Games since 1979.

The compound bow was invented in the 1960s as a more mechanically efficient piece of archery equipment. The design uses a levering system of pulleys and cables, making it faster and decidedly more accurate than other types of bow. Archers also use mechanical release aids and magnified sights. Compound was added to the World Archery Championships in 1995. It made its debut at the Pan Am Games in 2019.

Competition at the 2023 Pan Am Games starts with qualifying on Wednesday 1 November 2023.